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"Hear me, Pip! I adopted her, to be loved. I bred her and educated her, to be loved. I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved. Love her!"
She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of lovedespairrevengedire deathit could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse.
"I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper,
"what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning selfhumiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiteras I did!"
When she came to that, and to a wild cry that followed that, I caught her round the waist. For she rose up in the chair, in her shroud of a dress, and struck at the air as if she would as soon have struck herself against the wall and fallen dead.
All this passed in a few seconds. As I drew her down into her chair, I was conscious of a scent that I knew, and turning, saw my guardian in the room.
He always carried (I have not yet mentioned it, I think) a pockethandkerchief of rich silk and of imposing proportions, which was of great value to him in his profession. I have seen him so terrify a client or a witness by ceremoniously unfolding this pockethandkerchief as if he were immediately going to blow his nose, and then pausing, as if he knew he should not have time to do it before such client or witness committed himself, that the selfcommittal has followed directly, quite as a matter of course.
When I saw him in the room he had this expressive pockethandkerchief in both hands, and was looking at us. On meeting my eye, he said plainly, by a momentary and silent pause in that attitude, "Indeed? Singular!" and then put the handkerchief to its right use with wonderful effect.
Miss Havisham had seen him as soon as I, and was (like everybody else) afraid of him. She made a strong attempt to compose herself, and stammered that he was as punctual as ever.
"As punctual as ever," he repeated, coming up to us. "(How do you do, Pip? Shall I give you a ride, Miss Havisham? Once round?) And so you are here, Pip?"
I told him when I had arrived, and how Miss Havisham had wished me to come and see Estella. To which he replied, "Ah! Very fine young lady!" Then he pushed Miss Havisham in her chair before him, with one of his large hands, and put the other in his trouserspocket as if the pocket were full of secrets.
"Well, Pip! How often have you seen Miss Estella before?" said he, when he came to a stop.
"Ah! How many times? Ten thousand times?"
"Oh! Certainly not so many."
"Jaggers," interposed Miss Havisham, much to my relief, "leave my Pip alone, and go with him to your dinner."
He complied, and we groped our way down the dark stairs together.
While we were still on our way to those detached apartments across the paved yard at the back, he asked me how often I had seen Miss Havisham eat and drink; offering me a breadth of choice, as usual, between a hundred times and once.
I considered, and said, "Never."
"And never will, Pip," he retorted, with a frowning smile. "She has never allowed herself to be seen doing either, since she lived this present life of hers. She wanders about in the night, and then lays hands on such food as she takes."
"Pray, sir," said I, "may I ask you a question?"
"You may," said he, "and I may decline to answer it. Put your question."
"Estella's name. Is it Havisham or?" I had nothing to add.
"Or what?" said he.
"Is it Havisham?"
"It is Havisham."
This brought us to the dinnertable, where she and Sarah Pocket awaited us. Mr. Jaggers presided, Estella sat opposite to him, I faced my green and yellow friend. We dined very well, and were waited on by a maidservant whom I had never seen in all my comings and goings, but who, for anything I know, had been in that mysterious house the whole time. After dinner a bottle of choice old port was placed before my guardian (he was evidently well acquainted with the vintage), and the two ladies left us.
Anything to equal the determined reticence of Mr. Jaggers under that roof I never saw elsewhere, even in him. He kept his very looks to himself, and scarcely directed his eyes to Estella's face once during dinner. When she spoke to him, he listened, and in due course answered, but never looked at her, that I could see. On the other hand, she often looked at him, with interest and curiosity, if not distrust, but his face never, showed the least consciousness. Throughout dinner he took a dry delight in making Sarah Pocket greener and yellower, by often referring in conversation with me to my expectations; but here, again, he showed no consciousness, and even made it appear that he extortedand even did extort, though I don't know howthose references out of my innocent self.